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Cailabs wins €5m funding from defense & aero giant Safran

11 Jul 2017

‘Disruptive’ French startup gains investment for its light shaping technologies.

France-based aerospace and defense giant Safran has made a €5 million equity investment in fellow French photonics technology company Cailabs, through its investment arm Safran Corporate Ventures.

Established in 2013, Cailabs is a spinoff from the Kastler Brossel Laboratory, a joint research unit between the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Pierre et Marie Curie University and French national scientific research agency CNRS.

Cailabs has developed a patented disruptive photonics technology, called Multi Plane Light Conversion, based on the manipulation of light. Based in Rennes, Brittany, the company is developing a range of light-shaping components based on its approach.

Cailabs makes photonic products, including components, modules and subassemblies for the telecoms and industrial laser markets. The company has already developed two main applications: spatial multiplexing for telecommunication networks, and for high-power industrial lasers, which can be used for welding, cutting, surface treatment and additive manufacturing.

Potential benefits

The partners comment, “Data transmission requirements on aircraft are increasing steadily, because of connectivity demand from passengers, increased data exchange between onboard computers (health monitoring) and upcoming requirements for flight safety and security.

Fiber-optic networks are starting to be deployed on the latest-generation aircrafts (such as the Airbuses A380 and A350, and the Boeing 787), but face specific challenges compared to traditional terrestrial optical fibers because of the fragility of conventional optical fibers, and aviation certification requirements.

"The growing need for data transmissions means an increase in the complexity, cost and weight of aircraft wiring systems," said Alain Sauret, CEO of Safran Electrical & Power, an aircraft wiring systems developer.

"The development of very-high-speed capabilities is the inevitable solution to optimize aircraft onboard networks. Safran Electrical & Power is working with Cailabs on optical fibers based development projects with for next generation wiring systems, with several potential business cases under consideration."

€5m Series A follows €3.5m seeding

After seed investment of €3.5m from early stage funds such as Innovacom and Starquest, along with business angels, Safran then led the new round of financing of €5m euros, subscribed by Safran Corporate Ventures and existing shareholders. This round will enable the company to bolster its industrial and commercial development, and support international expansion.

"Cailabs is forecasting strong growth from now to 2020 because of its very innovative solutions to critical industrial problems," said Eric Dalbiès, Safran, executive vice president for Strategy and M&A, and Chairman of Safran Corporate Ventures. "In addition to the company's priority on telecommunications sector, Cailabs has sterling opportunities in several of Safran's core business activities, especially aircraft wiring and industrial lasers applications. The stake acquired by Safran Corporate Ventures will help accelerate developments in those areas."

Along with this transaction, Grégoire Aladjidi, Head of Safran Corporate Ventures, will join the Cailabs Board of Directors.

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